Since 1974 collaborative arrangements have enabled local authorities to secure primary care medical services that are essential for the provision of education, social services and public health at no charge to the patient.
Practices regularly receive requests from local authorities to provide a whole range of services relating to the council’s responsibilities. These include child protection, mental health assessments, fostering and adoption reports amongst others None of these are obligatory for GPs to provide under their contracts but, if GPs do provide them, then there is provision under the NHS Act for them to be paid under ‘collaborative’ arrangements. It is the Area Team, not the local authority, who is responsible for making these payments should a GP carry out one of these services at the request of the local authority although in some areas, the local authority will pay the practice and then re-charge the Area Team.
Some social workers are familiar with these arrangements but we know that others are not. This generic Medical Fee Claim Form Template here can be used to make sure the right procedure is followed for all services requested by the local authority and provided by GPs under the collaborative arrangements. We recommend that you forward a copy of the form to any local authority officer who requests a procedure but does not use the form initially (they should complete Section 1 and then return it to the practice). The only exception may be if you receive an urgent request (such as a child protection issue). In such cases, it may be more appropriate to undertake the work without reference to the form.
In the past practices were paid a fee that was fixed by the DDRB. This is no longer the case and the DDRB has not recommended fees for some years. Practices should therefore set their own fee levels but these must be reasonable, transparent and subject to scrutiny. They should preferably be notified in writing to the Area Team for agreement.
GPs are often the only individuals who can provide these services and the rate of pay may, on occasion, be of secondary importance, especially in cases where ethical considerations or maintaining the doctor-patient relationship imposes particular professional obligations, especially in relation to children.
Please remember that collaborative services do not include any services covered by the ‘List of Prescribed Certificates’ under the GMS and PMS Regulations you are obliged to provide these free of charge under your contract. For more guidance on what these are, go to: Mandatory Certificates